Posts tagged pasta

Ricotta Gnudi with Chorizo and Peas

Jess - Gnudi5Jess - Gnudi7


hese little gnudi pillows are a lighter take on the chewier gnocchi – a potato based recipe –  and instead use creamy ricotta and very little flour to form a creamy and lovely textured equivalent. Historically they are known in Italy as ‘naked’ ravioli. Use your imagination….these ones however are clothed in a simple buttery lemon sauce. A delicious end to whats been a temperamental June weekend. Glorious sun one minute and torrential rain the next. Since the gardens and parks are in full green bloom with all the nourishing rain, a dinner inspired using fresh summer vegetables here makes them not an addition to the gnudi main event but an equal partner.

This recipe is speedy to knock up especially once you’ve fried the gnudi. Simply toss together the blanched vegetables in some buttery lemon and voila…you have a perfect summers meal!

Feel free to use any range of vegetables. Sliced blanched asparagus would be glorious here when in season perhaps with pancetta instead of chorizo. Or try string in some last minute wild garlic leaves, basil or mint.

Serves 2


  • 250g  ricotta cheese
  • 60g plain flour
  • 1 large egg, beten
  • 20g finely grated parmesan (plus more for garnish)
  • Grated zest 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper


  • 1/2 lemon
  • 100g peas
  • 100g broad beans, podded (or any other summer green veg enough for 2)
  • 100g chorizo, sliced on the diagonal
  • 40g unsalted butter
  • Handful chopped chives
  1. Begin making the gnudi. Combine all ingredients into a bowl and mix until well combined.Jess - Gnudi
  2. Tip out onto a floured surface and roll into a log shape (as thick as you like). Add a little more flour if needed. The texture should come together and not be wet but it will be very soft and pillowy like dough. Quite fragile.
  3. Chop into gnudi pieces (mine were about 2 inch long) and place on a tray until ready to cookJess - Gnudi2
  4. Bring a pan of water to the boil and blanch your vegetables of choice and then drain and set aside.
  5. Using the same pan, season the water and poach the gnudi for a few minutes. They will rise to the surface and float once cooked and ready. When this happens, use a slotted spoon to drain and place on a lined tray. Keep the water for the sauce.
  6. Heat a frying pan and add half the butter and a little oil. Heat on a high heat and then fry the gnudi until golden brown all over. Place on a warm plate and keep warm once golden.
  7. Jess - Gnudi3
  8. In the same pan, add the sliced chorizo and fry just until beginning to crisp.
  9. (You need to now work quickly to prevent the vegetables decolouring). Add the vegetables – peas and beans – to the chorizo in the pan and season.
  10. Next add in the rest of the butter and stir to emulsify the sauce. Add a splash of the gnudi poaching water.
  11. Simmer and then add the gnudi to the mixture and warm through and coat in the buttery juices.
  12. Finally, when all warmed through, squeeze over the lemon juice and the chopped chives.
  13. Serve in deep warm bowls topped with any reserved chopped chives and some more grated parmesan

Jess - Gnudi4


Roast Poussin, Creamy Leeks and Smoked Salt Fried Gnocchi

I’m no pasta lover (sorry Italy…and Nigella) but I am an occasional fried gnocchi lover. OK I may have been a tad patriotic on the cooking method but it turns out that fried gnocchi are a bit like mini roast potatoes. Bitesized. Dangerous. But delicious. After a continuous dose of Thai and Asian inspired dishes recently, followed by a delicious and flavour packed trip to Morocco, I fancied a bit more of a classic this evening. French poussin and mustardy creamy leeks were a delicious and comforting contrast to my ‘Englishly’ cooked Italian potato dumplings. Crispy and golden and seasoned with smoked salt.

Serves 2

  • 250g gnocchi
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp smoked salt (optional)
  • 2 large leeks
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 250ml single cream
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • Handful flatleaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 x poussin
  • 50g unsalted butter, softened
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Place your poussin on a baking tray and smother the skin and legs with about 30g of the butter and season well.
  2. Place in the centre of the oven and roast for about 40-45minutes until cooked. Baste with the juices a few times during cooking.
  3. Once cooked, leave to rest before serving.
  4. Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter with a splash of oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Slice the leeks in halve vertically and slice into chunks. Gently and slowly soften the leeks for about 15 minutes of so until really soft. Add the garlic and cook out for another few minutes.
  5. While the leeks are softening and the poussin is cooking, cook the gnocchi. Boil in salted water for 2 minutes and then drain well. Leave to dry out a little for a few minutes.
  6. Heat a frying pan on a high heat and add the sunflower oil. Fry the cooked gnocchi with the smoked salt in the oil until crispy and golden. Keep warm.
  7. When the poussin is nearly cooked and ready, turn the heat up a little with the leeks and add the cream. Simmer a little to thicken.
  8. Season well and add the mustard and all but a handful of parsley and stir thoroughly. Keep warm while you carve the poussin.
  9. Remove the meat from the oven or from where it has been resting. Carve off the breast and wings.
  10. Serve the creamy leeks in a warmed serving bowl and top with the poussin. Scatter round some fried gnocchi and sprinkle with the remaining parsley.
  11. Drizzle with a dash of lemon infused or plain extra virgin olive oil and serve!

WINE: This dish being creamy and weighty is delicious served with a classic wine pairing. Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc with some oak ageing and some natural acidity. Try this Mulderbosch, 2013 Faithful Hound White from Stellenbosch available at Armit Wines.

Jess - Mulderbosch

Orzo and Crab


I am really not a pasta fan. I rarely eat the stuff. However, I’ve been intrigued to try these little rice-like orzo for a while now. So tonight was the night. Fried with some potted crab, mixed with some fresh lemon which was delicious and as welcome as a priest at a wedding here, scattered with fresh herbs like confetti on a bride. Please excuse the wedding metaphors. The Great British Bake Off final has just finished and the ultimate challenge was wedding cakes….

I served mine with some crispy fried seabass fillets, one of my favourites of the fish world, and some wilted spinach and peas for freshness. See what you think.

Serves 2

  • 160g orzo pasta
  • Up to 60g potted crab in spices (I used the 57g pot of ‘Seafood & Eat It’ potted crab) Or use fresh crab- even better!
  • Large handful parsley, chopped finely
  • Large handful chives, chopped finely
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 2 seabass fillets
  1. Boil the pasta in salted water for about 7 minutes until cooked.
  2. While cooking, fry the crab in a little hot oil for a few minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving a splash of the cooking water, and while still loose and warm, add to the frying crab and stir to combine.
  3. Add a splash of the cooking water if dry.
  4. Add the herbs, the lemon zest, seasoning and the juice of the lemon.



image5.  Keep warm while you fry the fish. Season the fillets and score the skin to stop it from curling in the pan.

6. Fry in a little hot oil for about 3 minutes, skin side down until mostly cooked. Finish on the other side for a final few minutes. Add a knob of butter to the pan and let brown while basting the fish. Serve on top of the orzo with some wilted spinach and peas.


Salmon and Dill Ravioli, Lemon Buerre Noisette



Only a few weeks after returning from my gap year travels I was disappointed in myself that I had gone all my (then) 18 years and one hearty gap year without ever having been to Italy! Venice and Florence had always been on my list of destinations……the land of food. So a quick ticket and a hostel bed later I found myself in the middle of Italy with a heavy bag and apron for company. Naturally with my priorities in the right place) I had both a Venetian and Tuscan cookery class booked and under my belt.

If I’m honest, I’ve never been a huge pasta fan but what could be better than making it yourself in the sunny Tuscan hills? I spent what has to be the most charming, authentic and relaxing day in a Tuscan cookery school just outside Florence on their magical estate. With wine in hand on arrival (their priorities were right) I cooked a 4 course meal using wines and rich olive oils from their own estate and learned how to make pasta. It was a day to remember. (For details see below).

However, not being a pasta fan I have not revisited the pasta section of the charmingly translated and authentic cookery book from the school- until now. I thought I’d deviate from the traditional spinach and ricotta variety I made in Florence and invented my own. For pasta lovers, making it could not be easier- I don’t even have a pasta machine! Whilst I would recommend one, as rolling it to a thin consistency did shamefully strain and unearth some hibernating arm muscles, but it was delicious. Fill your ravioli with whatever you like and coat in any sauce that takes your fancy! I’m now off to re-make the other dishes I so greedily enjoyed back in those sunny hills….watch this space

Serves 2-3

  • 200g ‘OO’ flour
  • 2 eggs
  • Pinch salt
  • Small handful of chopped dill
  • 2 salmon fillets, smoked (Mine were raw but lightly smoked which was a nice addition, alternatively used precooked smoked trout for the same texture and flavour but non-smoked salmon fillet work fine also)
  • 2 heaped tbsp creme fraiche/ricotta
  • 1 lemon, zest and 1 tbsp juice
  • 25g butter
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • Bunch of asparagus, chopped

1. Start with the pasta. Make a heaped mound of flour on a clean surface and make a well in the centre. Break in your eggs and a pinch of salt. Use a fork to whisk the eggs in a circular motion and then gradually bring in the flour from the sides bit by bit to incorporate it into the doughimage2. Once it has all be added (its may need a splash of water or wine to add a bit more moisture) knead into a ball. Add the chopped dill and then knead with the heal of your hand for a good 15-20 minutes until the dough is really smooth and it feels elastic.image

3. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, cook the salmon in a hot oven for about 10 minutes until just cooked but still moist. Discard the skin and flake into a bowl with some seasoning, the finely grated zest of the lemon and a squeeze of the juice. Leave to cool before stirring in the creme fraiche.

5. Once the dough has rested, remove from the fridge and use either a pasta machine or some elbow grease and a rolling pin to roll out so it is really thin.

6. Cut out circles with a pastry cutter and spoon teaspoons of cold salmon into the middle. Fold over into a half moon and sandwich together and seal with a fork.image

7. Place onto a lightly floured/.polenta coated plate.

8. Cook your asparagus spears for a few minutes and then drain and keep warm. Additionally, heat a splash of oil over a high heat and fry the capers until crisp and drain on kitchen paper.

9. Bring a large heavily salted pan of water to the boil and drop in your pasta. Simmer briskly until cooked to your liking (about 3-5 minutes depending on the thickness of the pasta) and they will rise to the surface when they are nearly ready.

10. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a large frying pan on a high heat. When it starts to sizzle, stir and allow it to turn a brown nutty colour and release a nutty aroma. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice

11. Drain the pasta and serve, with the asparagus spears and drizzle generously with the lemon butter sauce. Scatter with the capers and a grating of lemon zest.

Buon Appetito!

The cookery course I did in Florence was ‘The Good Taste of Italy’ day course found here. I didn’t stay in the accommodation on the estate but I wish I had, its worth a look as they also do cookery holidays where you are housed in their stunning villa and fed silly.




The Venetian course I did was outside of Venice and was very different. It took a more homely and casual approach set in the house of an Italian Mama. Advertised to teach you to ’cook like an Italian Mama’ it was certainly the most authentic course I could have done and there were only 3 of us in the class. After being collected, we shopped for our ingredients and picked our vegetables and herbs form their own healthy allotment before being welcomed generously to their kitchen to cook up a feast.



Five Spice Rib Ragu


ast night we had the pleasure of cooking for some family friends who can always be relied upon to offer up a humble and sincere appreciation for food which makes them ideal guests. Not only am I not usually one for trying out a new dish for the first time at a dinner party but I often wonder why people do decide to venture into the unknown with pressure of for hungry guests. However, if I was to experiment on anyone for the first time, these guys would be right on my list. With some much needed tweaking in regards to flavour (sorry Nig’) from a recipe from Nigel Slater’s diaries, some added Chinese influence to this recipe turned into a winner.

Serves 6 easily

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 3 carrots, finely chopped
  • 50g butter
  • 4 racks of baby pork ribs (just over 1kg) cut into 3 rib pieces
  • 250g mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 generous handful of dried wild mushrooms
  • 800ml hot beef stock
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 star anise
  • 1tsp five spice paste
  • 1 heaped tbsp flour
  • 1 heaped tbsp softened butter
  • Pappardelle/tagliatelle pasta of choice (enough for 6)
  • Chopped parsley to garnish
  1. Being by soaking the dried mushrooms in the hot beef stock for about 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large casserole dish with a splash of olive oil and brown the ribs all over to caramelise the outside and release their flavour. Remove and set aside.
  3. Add the finely chopped carrots, onions and celery to the dish and cook for about 15 minutes until beginning to soften. Add a touch more oil if needed.
  4. Add the chopped mushrooms and continue to cook until these are soft too.
  5. Use a slotted spoon to remove the wild mushrooms from their soaking liquid and add these to the pan and cook for a few more minutes along with the cinnamon, star anise and the five spice paste. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  6. Return the ribs to the pan and cover the whole thing with the beef stock and bring to the boil.
  7. Now you can either simmer this on the hob, covered, for about 3 hours, or I prefer to pop it into a low oven (135°C.) for about 3 hours or so until the pork is tender and just the slightest touch of the ribs will loosen them enough to pull out the pan by hand.
  8. After the required time, remove and discard the ribs using a pair of forks to leave the tender pork. They should just slide out. Taste and season as required.
  9. Increase the temperature to 200°C and return the ragu to the oven to brown the top, reduce the sauce and let it thicken for about 30 minutes or so. If, after 30 minutes, it still needs to be a little thicker, simmer the pan on the hob. Then, mix the 1 tbsp of plain flour and 1 tbsp of butter together in a small bowl to form a paste and whisk this into the sauce. The flour will thicken the sauce without it going lumpy and the butter will add a nice gloss.
  10. Cook your pasta in lots of salted water while the ragu keeps warm on a low heat. Drain and toss with a little olive oil and seasoning. Serve with a generous helping of ragu and a scattering of parsley.

This was lovely served with a green salad of rocket and watercress, crispy shaved fennel and celery and dressed very gently in lemon juice and good extra virgin olive oil for freshness.

WINE: Pasta with a roasted ragu meat sauce suits nothing better than an Italian red. Try something such as the Agricola Punica, 2013 Montessu from Sardinia available at Armit Wines

Jess - Montessu